RAISING AWARENESS FOR TIBET
Honors Class HPR 224G-0002
Presented to Congressman Jim Langevin (April 18 2019)
URI Honors Student Advocates: Ted Donovan and Jessica Daltorio
There is a great suffering happening that most people in the West are unaware of. They may have heard of the Dalai Lama, or seen prayer flags hanging before, but they don’t connect these things to China’s abuses of the people of Tibet1. The struggles of the Tibetan people under Chinese occupation are unknown to the general public, despite that the UN along with several other nations, have launched campaigns to aid them2. We are here to facilitate a greater understanding of the oppression, and garner greater support for a free Tibet.
Due to a lack of a current census and lack of transparency from China, it is extremely difficult to determine an accurate population of Tibet. However, from multiple academic sources, one can estimate that approximately 1.5 to 2 million Tibetans are living in exile or outside Tibet; and approximately 6.5 to 7 million Tibetans are living in Tibet controlled directly by China.
Tibetan autonomy has been assailed since the Chinese invasion of 1950. The Tibetan people have been willing to remain part of China as a semi-autonomous vassal state, but China has been unrelenting in its efforts for complete domination. Religious, cultural, and economic freedoms are on the verge of being wiped out completely.
On top of this, unsustainable practices by the Chinese threaten the historic places of the region, as well as the environment, including the large glacial areas whose runoff supports critically important rivers that run through a large area of Asia. In simple terms: Tibet is disappearing culturally and physically. Religious, cultural, and economic freedoms are on the verge of being wiped out completely and its people are suffering as a result.
According to Human Rights Watch, in February 2018, China’s Public Security Bureau in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) issued a notice that urged the Tibetan people to inform on so called “underworld forces” and declared a range of traditional and informal social activities to be illegal among Tibetans.
China’s Public Security Bureau established the range of illegal Tibetan activities include: local initiatives for environmental protection, language preservation, and dispute mediation, some of which the notice claimed secretly encourage support for the exiled Dalai Lama or for Tibetan independence.
As a United Nations member state, China has affirmed acceptance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose provisions are broadly considered reflective of customary international law. These include the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly, expression, and to participate in the cultural life of the community. The suppressive tactics of China’s Public Security Bureau in 2018 were the latest evidence that China is systematically violating these rights.
The Tibetan government has posted many examples of human rights violations by China. For example:
The Tibetan people truly face a bleak situation– one that could result in their very existence being wiped out. If any other country in the world was under such a brutal attack that threatened their sovereignty, way of life, and people, the story would be on the forefront of the news.
Tibetans are a peaceful people– ones who don’t believe in the use of violence, who were attacked unprovoked, and who need the help of the world to protect their home. China is a Unites States trading partner, as well as an extremely powerful world power. But we cannot let the fear of China keep us from protecting a people that desperately need our help. President Trump took a first step in the rights direction with Tibet, but there must be expanded comprehensive U.S. policy.
This problem can be resolved if Congress Members and those in power speak up in support of Tibet to help change their dire situation. Without this Tibet’s culture will disappear.
We have a responsibility, not only as Americans but as humans, to prevent the violence in Tibet. We aim to help these non-violent people through our advocacy, and to organize in order to condemn the actions of the Chinese government which has tried so desperately to silence this pressing issue. It’s time to put Tibet first.
 Freedom World 2018 Table of Country Scores. (2018, January 16). Retrieved from https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world-2018-table-country-scores
 UN General Assembly Resolutions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.savetibet.org/policy-center/united-nations/un-general-assembly-resolutions/
 Latson, J. (2015, March 17). Dalai Lama Escapes From Tibet: How and Why It Happened. Retrieved from http://time.com/3742242/dalai-lama-1959/
 2018 World Press Freedom Index | Reporters Without Borders. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://rsf.org/en/ranking
 China bans foreigners from visiting Tibet Autonomous Region until April. (2019, February 19). Retrieved from https://www.savetibet.org/china-bans-foreigners-from-visiting-tibet-autonomous-region-until-april/
 Beijing closes Tibet to foreigners over 60th anniversary of the 1959 uprising. (2019, February 26). Retrieved from https://freetibet.org/news-media/na/beijing-closes-tibet-foreigners-over-60th-anniversary-1959-uprising
 Donald Trump signs bill on Tibet into law despite China protest. (2018, December 20). Retrieved from https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/donald-trump-signs-bill-on-tibet-into-law-despite-china-protest/articleshow/67175620.cms
 Over 10,000 sign petition rejecting a Tibetan as university student president in Toronto. (2019, February 18). Retrieved from https://freetibet.org/news-media/na/over-10000-sign-petition-rejecting-tibetan-university-student-president-canada